Calgary’s Sikh community offers ‘really awesome’ food aid during COVID-19 pandemic

Volunteers at the Dashmesh Sikh Temple in northeast Calgary are working hard to make sure people don’t go hungry during the COVID-19 crisis.

More than 100 members of the community are operating a “No Hungry Tummy” tent, where people can drive or walk up and get a packaged hot meal for takeout.

The tent operates seven days a week, as does a newly-setup food bank at the temple, where people can pick up hampers.

“So many people, they are struggling to get by,” Dashmesh Culture Centre president Amanpreet Singh Gill said.

“It’s one of the basic principles of Sikhism: we have to help those in need, and it’s not just for south Asians or the Sikh community, it’s for everyone — everyone is welcome here.”

Volunteers are also making deliveries of hot meals and hampers to those isolating during the pandemic.

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“On a daily basis, we deliver over 500 meals,” Gill said. “And around 50 to 60 food hampers a day.”

Members of the group are also making the rounds daily at truck stops around Calgary, again offering free hot meals to anybody who needs one.

“We see all these truck drivers that are providing an essential service to us,” volunteer Vishavdeep Singh said. “And right now is a time when they need our support the most, because they are not able to get food from other places sometimes.”

Truckers are grateful for the support at a time when many of the restaurants they’d normally eat at remain closed because of the pandemic.

“At this time of COVID-19, it’s really good to see them helping truckers,” British Columbia-based truck driver Navraj Phatthel said.

Along with the volunteers providing food at truck stops and the temple, there’s also broad support from the Sikh community.

“We’ve got lots of people from the community donating food,” Gill said, adding that there’s also significant support from supermarkets and bakeries in the area near the temple.

It all adds up to some much-needed help for the many Calgarians struggling during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Most of the people in the family are not working, with two kids (to take care of),” hamper recipient Carl Alub said. “So, you just come (to the temple), you’ll get the help. They’ll give it to you, so, it’s really awesome.”

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